Red Sox Reach Critical Point in Season, Recognize Tough Schedule Ahead

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Red Sox Reach Critical Point in Season, Recognize Tough Schedule AheadBOSTON — This is developing into a pivotal point in the season.

After dropping three straight games to the Blue Jays, including Sunday's 15-7 rout, the Red Sox have tumbled down to 48-48. At this point, they trail the Yankees in the AL East by 10 1/2 games and the second AL wild card spot by 3 1/2.

"We've got to play well, especially at this time in the season," second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. "We need to find a way to grind out wins. We're trying to find the identity of our team. We want to do something special."

The road ahead is only getting tougher. Starting on Monday, the Red Sox will open a six-game stretch against the Rangers and Yankees — three apiece — before hosting the Tigers back at Fenway Park.
Those are all first-place teams. So how important is the upcoming stretch?

"Really important, you're talking about two of the best teams in the American League," Cody Ross said. "Neither team is actually playing that well, but we need to come in and play a lot better than we did [on Sunday]. That's for sure."

As of Sunday, the Red Sox received at least one break. Texas starter Roy Oswalt, who was scheduled to pitch on Monday, was scratched with lower back tigthness and will be replaced by Scott Feldman.

Following that game, Boston will face off against Rangers starters Colby Lewis and Derek Holland. But Holland has presented the Red Sox with problems, going 3-1 with a 2.84 ERA in four career starts against them.

"It's real important," catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said of the series. "We're going into a Texas ballclub that can hit the ball pretty well so if we can limit that and then go into our division against New York and win some games and kind of climb back into it."

The wild card race is just as challenging, with the Red Sox trailing the Athletics, White Sox, Orioles and the Rays. Cleveland is also nipping at their heels, owning a 47-48 record as well.

These upcoming clashes ahead could determine where the Red Sox finish this season.

Have a question for Didier Morais? Send it to him via Twitter at @DidierMorais or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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